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SUZHOU, CHINA - MAY 06: (CHINA OUT) A female Rafetus swinhoei (also known as Yangtze giant softshell turtle) is seen in the mud at Suzhou Zoo on May 6, 2015 in Suzhou, Jiangsu province of China. Organized by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and China's Institute of Zoology (IOZ), artificial insemination in a pair of the only left one-hundred-year-old Rafetus swinhoei was conducted in southeast China's Suzhou Zoo and gained success which meant that there existing hope to save the world's largest freshwater turtle species. Rafetus swinhoei is an extremely rare species of softshell turtle found in Vietnam and China. Only four living individuals are known and it is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

Photo by: VCG

VCG

New Discovery May Save Nearly Extinct Turtle Species

By: Discovery

After the 2019 loss of the last confirmed female Swinhoe Softshell Turtle in China, extinction was all but confirmed. But a new discovery gives hope to the species: a female turtle living in a lake in Vietnam.

January 27, 2021

In 2019, the Swinhoe Softshell Turtle, also known as the Yangtze giant softshell turtle among other names, suffered a major loss despite all conservation efforts. A female turtle perished after an insemination procedure leaving her mate at a zoo in China alone.

After this incident, researchers looked to the wild to try to bring this softshell turtle back from imminent extinction. There was some hope, evidence of one additional turtle of unconfirmed gender in the Dong Mo lake in Vietnam. After months of speculation, it was announced that this large lake-dweller was in fact female.

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Dong Mo Lake, Vietnam

Photo by: Tran Tuan Viet

Tran Tuan Viet

Dong Mo Lake, Vietnam

The research involving the Swinhoe softshell turtle has spanned years in Asia. This species can grow up to over 350 lbs and six feet long and live 100 years-or more. Fishers tasked with the protection of the turtles have done great work, as researchers and conservationists work towards improving the habitats in the wild.

There is still a long way to go to bring back this species from the brink of extinction, but steps are being taken to consider how to perpetuate this species beyond two lone turtles existing in two different countries.

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